Friday, May 18, 2012

Let's Ask The Cats: Work-Life Balance

The result of Wednesday's poll was a big surprise to me: nearly 40% of those who voted went for the new-agey balanced-rock image as a symbol of Work-Life Balance. However, I sensed a bit of dissatisfaction with the options, and, although it may not have been clear from what I wrote in that post, I share this feeling.

 The Winner

So I leaped into action. After participating in some intense meetings involving likely-pointless but nevertheless Crucial Things, talking to students, and then working feverishly on a manuscript that never seems to end, breaking only for an infusion of caffeine-and-sugar, I went home and had a serious talk with one of my cats. The topic: Work-Life Balance Symbols, of course.

I told him about the flattish polished rocks as powerful symbols of work-life balance, and he was skeptical. Because this cat happens to be an experimentalist who likes to develop theoretical models to explain complex interrelated systems and because I happened to have a bunch of these rocks handy, we decided to to make our own symbolic work-life balance rock-tower. But because these things are rather unstable (no kidding, that's probably the point), we decided to make our rock-tower an extraorindarily powerful and versatile symbol by gluing the rocks together with superglue.

Once we had stabilized our work-life balance rock-tower, we knew what we had to do: take a nap. Actually, no! There was no time for that! It was photo time!! My cat and I conspired to create our own images to symbolize not simply work-life balance (because we don't even really know what that means), but instead to try to show the real-life consequences of seeking a work-life balance symbol. That's when our project became a bit circular, but here are the results:

Here we use a tilted work-life balance tower to symbolize the imbalance that can afflict those who do not nap sufficiently during the day because they have to spend all this time stacking rocks into towers, or whatever.

Here my cat was saying: work-life-work-life-work-life-work-life-phooey

The search for work-life balance can be overwhelming at times, and probably isn't really worth it.

In this photo, my cat cleverly adopted a blank stare to emphasize the dire and perhaps damaging effects on the psyche resulting from a too-rigid definition of work-life balance, undermining attempts to create a symbol that isn't bizarre.

The ultimate image: the real-life consequences of the search for the mythical work-life balance symbol.





16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post, but could use more cat pictures.

Phiala said...

Utterly brilliant.

shoe said...

Yes!!!

Anonymous said...

May I please have a large-resolution copy of the last image? I feel like my grad-student laptop needs it as a wallpaper!

Anonymous said...

I love this - your cat looks so zen. If I left that rock stack with my cat, it would have been on the floor, knocked down the stairs, broken apart and the little stone swallowed whole before I could find the camera to snap a pic. :)

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love.

Anonymous said...

This is by far the best article I have ever read on putative work/life balance. Also it is one of the funniest things I have read in a long while. Thanks!

chall said...

aww... awesome :)

Cute cat.

Anonymous said...

Pure gold. Glad I'm alone in the office because I'm cracking up...

Comrade Physioprof said...

People on ludes should not blogge.

Anonymous said...

FSP and CPP should have a blog-duel (in the form of a poll): which scienceprofessor-blog/blogger is more bizarre?

Anonymous said...

I don't care that much for pictures representing work-life balance, but I loved this post for the cats. Yes, I'm always in it just for the cats.

In regards to that poll by Anon 9:14: They are both bizarre in different ways, and therefore add something unique to the world of academic blogs. As a young aspiring researcher looking for information on academia, I believe my view would not be complete if either blog did not exist.

olympiasepiriot said...

There is no such thing as work life balance. I just know that my work IS my life and start from there.

All the images suck. As you said. Well, you didn't say that, you were more erudite and less vulgar. But, you THOUGHT it, I'm sure.

Ricochet said...

I like the idea of an inuksuk as the image for balancing everything. You could even label the rocks.

http://carolyntravels.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/churchill-inuksuk1.jpg

Anonymous said...

a cat picture post! My favorite!!

You crack me up, FSP.

Anonymous said...

aaaaawwwwwwwww:D::D:D:D:D:D